The feeling of “missing” people

Today has become one of those days. If you live away from friends and family, especially in a different country than them, you have experienced days like this. Everything is fine and dandy and you’re focused on your work/whatever you have to do that day and then suddenly you are overcome by a wave of sadness stemming from the absence of the loves in your life. This is an odd feeling if you think about it because those people you love are still there and still alive, and often times just a skype/FB/WhatsApp call away but they are just not physically close. Physical closeness and touch are important when it comes to people you love because that’s how God made us humans. We are created to be in fellowship with one another, in community.

Now I do have community here in Haiti and fellowship with my friends/co-workers but it’s just not the same as the deep-rooted friendships and relationships that have been left behind in the States. I’m not a stranger to these emotions that are best described as “missing” people in your life, but not often have they come at such a random time with such force as they did late this morning. The only other time I can remember that I had a flood of such emotions was the first few days that I was here, at the end of September 2016. This is bound to happen to anyone who lives away from country and family and friendships that run deep and I knew this when I signed up so this doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s just part of my life as of now. It’s natural.

Besides that, I wanted to update you on what’s happening in my world over the next 20 or so days. We have a large medical team from Emory U. coming on Sunday and staying until the 27th. We will be doing 6 medical clinics with them along with some other activities such as visiting the Paul Farmer hospital in Mirebalais. Medical groups are less physically demanding but some might say more tiring than construction teams. The mental and emotional energy you need to expend especially as someone who is one of the leaders of the group is massive. Before that team leaves, we have Konekte coming from Princeton on the 26th and leaving the 3rd of July at which point I will be returning to visit for two weeks by God’s grace. Konekte does a variety of things from construction to sports to teaching though I am not fully aware of what they will be doing this trip.

Which brings me to vacation. I have kept in contact with my family and a few friends via FB/WhatsApp but it will be nice to be able to see and talk to and fellowship with them in person while I am there. One of the two weeks I will be back will be taken up by my extended family’s reunion on my mom’s side. Every three years we rent several ski lodges in West Virginia and hang out for a week together with cousins and uncles and aunts. It’s a family tradition that has been happening ever since I was born and before. I haven’t seen many of these people since the last reunion in the summer of 2015 so it should be a great time. That means though that my time in NJ will be cut short. I am only going to be available from the 14-16 so I might not get to see some other people until I return at the beginning of October.

God is so good. I can’t believe it has already been 20 months already. Time is such a weird thing isn’t it?

Anyway, I thank you for continuing to support me while I’m here especially with your prayers; they are coveted and needed. I am super blessed by all of you beautiful peeps.

May God continue to bless and keep you.

With love,

Ben

 

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When peace like a river…

I’ve recently been finding out that if I have a hard time processing things, it helps to just write about them, so if this seems all over the place, that’s why haha.

God never ceases to amaze me with his timing.. I am ever in wonder of how he places things just when we need them in just the right situation. It’s one of the things that he has been opening my eyes to more and more while I have been serving in Haiti. The funny thing is, often times I don’t even realize that I need whatever he is presenting until he gives it. What an amazing God we serve!

Anyway, as I have blogged most recently, my future is one of question and unknowing. For many people (myself included), an unknown future of any aspect is often cause for worry, alarm, distress, etc; I have experienced this much in the past. As of recent though, God has graced me with this mysterious peace that seems to shroud most of the questions I have about my future. Everyone has dreams and visions for their own future and how they would like it to go and what they would like to do, etc. Of course I am no different as I have certain things that I find pleasing or good that I would like to be included in my future. As I have also blogged as of recent, I’m not sure God will honor these things as his will is much higher than mine and his plan is perfect. This is always a tough thing to wrestle with no matter how much faith you have. There will always be that (at least) one thing that keeps bothering you about not knowing every detail of your own future.

Today is no different. I am still unsure of what my future holds as it looms nearer; I am officially done in Haiti in just under four months. I’m sure all of you know what it feels like to try something and fail, right? Well isn’t that what life is? We all are seeking to find God’s will and when we feel something could be part of his will for our lives we reach out and nudge the door to see if it opens. The hardest test of faith isn’t in the waiting or in the unknowingness (yes I know that’s not a word) of our future but truly in how we react to doors that we feel are right and good that don’t open when we push them. Again, I need to keep in mind that God’s timing and plan is perfect but that doesn’t make it any easier in the moment. It gives us hope for the future knowing that God knows what’s ultimately best for us AND him but it gives little comfort for the present. This has become the test of faith for yer boy.

I want to say “surprisingly though..” but should I really be surprised at how God knows exactly what we need in any moment and chooses in his love and grace to give it to us? I guess I shouldn’t. Well, in the face of a door that I have deemed “good” not opening I have been given a peace that passes my understanding. I was thinking about this peace this morning and the image or likeness of one of those overstuffed chairs that lean back came to me. You know what I’m talking about? When you sit in one of those and just lean back and sink into it’s sweet fluffiness and all is right in the world? Well that’s what it feels like to “sink” into the peace that God has provided. It is a sweet rest knowing that he’s got this all figured out and my part in my future is to just trust him and follow his leading.

There is just no end to the goodness of God, everything that happens to me happens for his good and also for my own good even when I don’t see it as good in the moment. This is a truth that I have been learning to rest in more and more. That doesn’t make it easy to let go of my own will though; I have to constantly sacrifice my own will to the Father’s. I may not know details but I do know my future is gonna be lit…

Shout out to sister Tash for encouraging and praying for me.

Again, thank you for your interest and attention in these strange blogs. lol

May God continue to bless and keep you all,

Ben

 

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

-Horatio Gates Spafford (1873)

Lemme boast in YHWH

Good morning/afternoon/whenever you are reading this! It Is Sunday and I am waiting for Stone Hill’s live stream to come up and I’ve wanted to post for a couple days but didn’t know what to post about until this morning. I’d like to take time on this beautiful Sunday morning to brag about my God! I’ve been talking about the future in many of my recent posts so let’s take some time to focus on the past and what God has done in my life.

*gulps coffee* …can’t get away from this stuff…

So this whole thought process isn’t new to me; what God has done in my life over the past 5 years or so, it was just recently impressed on me afresh by a good friend and brother Mike. I have been asking people I know about possible job openings in facilities for the fall in order to hopefully set something up before I get back home or within the first couple months at most. Mike is involved with Liquid church in north Jersey and as some of you might know, they have many different campuses and are still growing at a rapid rate so I thought to myself, “They must have job openings in janitorial services cus they have so many buildings, lemme ask Mike.” WELL he gave me what I call a “Bobby Tunstall” response… A BT response is simultaneously full of wisdom and challenge. As you may guess, I don’t really like these kind of responses/questions/etc.. because they make me uncomfortable and usually involve something that I don’t want to do.. Mike’s response was “well we can talk about it but why do you want to do janitorial services when you’ve had two years of leadership training in Haiti?” I was like (in my head) COME ON really? Just let yer boy live his life! But if I’m honest, he is right.

This leads me to the topic of today’s blog. Over the past, I’d say, 4 or 5 years, God has changed me exponentially. Ask anyone who has known me well for more than 5 years and they can tell you some of what he has changed. My mom and dad have had front seats along with my brother Adam to the movie that has been my adult life. My good friends Nada, Scott and Jericho could also attest to how God has changed me. In fact, Nada and I were just talking the other day about how I used to be really mean back in the day and how my anger issues permeated areas of my life. Bobby Tunstall could also tell stories about what I used to be before he asked me to be a youth leader (and during that time as well). I could go on and on about this but let’s get to the meat of the subject; what God’s actually done.

Let me paint a picture for you of who I was before a couple years ago. I was the guy who put a young girl in the hospital because I couldn’t control my anger. I was the guy who used to look at porn daily because I couldn’t control my desires. I was the guy who would shy away from any responsibility because I didn’t want the pressure. I was self-serving and immature in many ways. I used to be a sheep; I never wanted to be a leader. BUT let’s not give power to past sins by focusing on them. THERE HAS BEEN CHANGE! *insert hallelujah hands emoji* By the GRACE of my God simply and exclusively I have been molded into a leader. I have been able to get a better handle on my anger and lust. I have taken responsibilities that I never thought I ever would. God has taken this lump of clay and fashioned it to his liking and his purpose; like I’ve said many times before and every time I share my testimony, I never wanted to or thought I would be living and serving in Haiti. I have come to enjoy who God has pushed and pulled and broken and restored me to be. I still don’t like how he does it (and maybe never will) but I have come to enjoy the end result of every opportunity he places in my lap and I begrudgingly take.

All this to say, I am far from perfect. There is much that still needs to be changed. I am still desperately in need of grace and forgiveness each and every day! But I wanted to just boast in my God for a little bit!

To tie this all in, I don’t yet know what God has for my future but I am starting to think it might not be janitorial services when I get back (still don’t like the idea of that though..). But I have come this far by his grace and leading to know that HE holds all the cards. He’s the one that makes the plans that always succeed and always go according to his will. I’m just here thinking about what’s next and he’s sitting up there saying “I got this Ben Henrie.. don’t you worry.”

I’m excited to see what he decides to do with me when I’m done in Haiti. His will is far greater than mine, as are his ways!

Have a blessed Sunday all,

With love

Ben

3..2..1..reset

It’s about that time. The past couple of days I’ve taken an unnecessary amount of losses when it comes to fighting the sin in my life. I believe I can say that all of you know what I’m talking about when I say this: there are times in our lives when we just give in to temptation because we are either tired of fighting or we are just apathetic towards what Christ has done for us. Well the past couple days have been just that, so yesterday and today I’ve decided to take the fight to the enemy.

Before coming and living in Haiti, I barely ever fasted. It was a spiritual discipline that I exercised only once a year when we (the youth group) would do the 30 Hr famine for World Vision and team up with youth groups in the area and have a fun time while doing it. Outside of that thirty hours, I never fasted. It wasn’t only because I love food so much but also because I didn’t feel the need to do it. Oh how spiritually immature I was! If only I knew the power of the weapon of fasting when I was younger I think I would be much stronger spiritually than I am now and I would have had many more victories under my belt (so to speak) against temptation and sin. But, you know what they say, “better late than never!” The past year or so I have started practicing the discipline of fasting and have unlocked some new power in my life. I have experienced first hand how fasting can turn the tide of spiritual warfare.

That being said, it has been a pleasure exploring for the first time the victories and growth that private fasting can give and the openness of communication with the Divine. I can’t believe I hadn’t ever done this before, I was definitely missing out! I was fasting one day a couple months ago after a group left and God gave me a vision. This was the first vision I had ever had!! I was in the air being wrapped in the huge white wings of Christ. In that moment I felt more at peace than I have ever felt in my entire life. I felt more secure and right and loved than I had ever felt before. I tried to look up at Jesus’ face but all I saw was light, it only lasted a couple seconds and then I was back in my bed with the fan blowing in my ears. I sometimes close my eyes and go back to that place to feel the warmth and love of God when I need an extra dose. It was amazing and I believe I wouldn’t have had that vision if I wasn’t fasting! I am hoping that this wasn’t the only vision God gives me, I am hungry for more.

So as you may have guessed with all my talk about fasting, that’s what I’m doing today. After a few days of repeated failures I know I need a reset. I need to re-set my eyes on Christ and the cross and the victories I ALREADY have in him. I need to reset my spiritual disciplines and fill up on spiritual food and get back into quiet time and prayer. Prayer is another thing that I have learned about while I’ve been here, it’s something that God has taught me the power of. So while I fast and pray today I ask that you pray along with me. There are many things that I have asked you all to pray about over the past year and a half but these things are what need the most attention at this point:

Refocus on Christ
Reset of spiritual disciplines
Renewed and increased desire to READ the Word
Peace for the future
Clarity for future choices
Provision for the future
And as per yuge, thanks for your continued support! This journey hasn’t been easy but I know that because of you all, it’s been blessed!!

Much love,

Ben

The pulling apart of a will…

As I laid sick in bed scrolling through FB, I came across a timely reminder from a sister in Christ that I didn’t realize I needed. She was talking about surrendering your will to God’s, which is something beforehand that I thought I had done pretty well and was currently doing.. But as I watched this short video I was struck by the reality that there were things my will was still holding on to, things that I hadn’t surrendered to God. If you have ever had similar realizations, you know that they are not pleasant; in fact often times they are painful and distressing because we are people who want what we want when we want it and just how we want it.

So as I laid there this feeling of sadness swept over me as if I was losing something, as if I had already lost what I didn’t even have. At that very same moment I knew that I had indeed been holding on to parts of my own will that I didn’t want to let go. It can be so hard as humans with deep-rooted desires to give those desires up to the unknown and hope that they are fulfilled. Even when who you are giving them up to is a loving and all powerful God, as people with hearts and emotions, it is difficult. I don’t often think of myself as a selfish person, but we all are selfish beings in ways that others may not immediately see. For me, one of these things is definitely what I desire for my future.

That night I could feel God pulling apart my will and exposing the hidden things inside. I was then faced with the reality of my situation and was given a choice; I could either choose to hold on to the desires I have for what I feel my future should look like or I could give it up to the Father who has always taken care of me and my needs. In the moment it sounded crazy to hold on to them even though it was painful to let go. See, I am a constant work in progress when it comes to my desires.. Those are the things (or lack thereof)  we feel are part of what makes us who we are, what makes us an individual.

So I have given up the last of my will unto His. I know that I will have to continue to do this weekly if not daily as these desires are strong and (I feel) right. The fact that my future is unclear is very unsettling to me. I like to have all my ducks in a row so to speak when it comes to the future. As of right now, I can’t even see the ducks, much less make them line up. Well, this is going to be a process but I know that God is continuing to mold this stubborn heart through it all. I don’t like it, but it is necessary. Please continue to pray for yer boy that I would take the grace freely given to me to keep surrendering my will unto God’s. That I would rest peacefully in the strength and omniscience of the Most High. It won’t be easy at times but I already know he’s preparing and has prepared something dope for my future, I just wish I could see it..

Thanks for your continued support and encouragement, especially those who have supported financially and those who have reached out and asked how I am doing. You all are loved.

With grace,

Ben

The Heart and it’s complexity.

“They say the heart want, what the heart wants…

But we know that ain’t always what we need.”

 
Two posts in two days? Well look who’s been chatty eh?

I guess one of the best ways that I have learned to process things aside from talking about them to others, is by writing.. Strange since I never liked writing growing up and still don’t loooove it, interesting how God works in us huh?

Over the past few months I have been asking for prayers for clarity about choices that I have been presented with for the near future. I ask again that you pray all the more fiercely for this young heart surrounded by stimulation and potential choices everywhere. I need prayer that I would choose to protect my heart and the ones that I love instead of hurdling headlong into a definitive decision that I will regret either immediately or down the line somewhere. I know that all choices are not good and not all choices which are good are best. I need guidance for what isn’t good for me, but what’s best; not only for me but for my God. At the same time I know this, my heart yearns for action. I am simply impatient; it’s something that God has worked on in my life for years now. Impatience when it comes to the heart is even more dangerous because once the heart is damaged it is harder to heal than other things.

So I don’t really like talking about love, but I’m a young guy with hopes to get married sometime (hopefully sooner than later..)! This is a large chunk of what I need prayer for in decision making. The longer I wait, the more I yearn to be united with my “good thing.” The past few months have been no exception as the potential for my future opens wider and looms nearer, those emotions have gotten all but quieter. I was just sitting here thinking about choices and crying out to God to help me wade through the potentials to focus on the best because my heart was all over the place. It seems to have fits of impatience/uncertainty recently which haven’t been characteristics of my heart for a long long time. It’s always tough dealing with and processing emotions if you don’t know the end result of the “what” that those emotions are growing out of.

The older I get (especially these past few years) I have come into a fuller understanding of the freedom that God has given his discerning child to pick and choose when it comes to marriage. I used to have the one-dimensional view that there is only one person in the whole entire world that is for me and that we are “destined” to be together. I have since left that understanding far behind and as I understand more of the reality of how this works I have found myself “picturing” marrying this woman or that woman. Now some of you may think this is weird, as some of the people that I have explained this to before have. Others might know exactly what I am talking about. Just thinking about “ooh what if this would work” or “I could picture myself marrying her in another life, if situations were different.” Am I the only one? Well anyway, I don’t believe it’s wrong or even unhealthy. God gives us freedom to choose and as long as we make good choices that line up with his will for our lives, we can rest secure in his love and blessings.

I ask that you pray that 1) I would protect my heart and the hearts of those around me, 2) that God would make it clear in whatever way he chooses which option I should take, 3) that I would be patient in the expectant waiting of this time. As I continue to pray, I plan on taking steps towards this future knowing not whether it will work out. I have yet to feel from God that it’s a bad idea 🙂 But like I said, choices choices.

These lyrics to a song called “Anxious” by Dwayne Reed feat Street Hymns have stuck in my mind now for years.

God bless,

Ben

A well-timed visit

My mom came to visit us this past week and stayed for 5 days! It was great to be able to see her and visit different people/places with her while she was here. She hadn’t visited Haiti in several years and the last time she came it was for the church so we were inundated with meetings and visits with World Vision, etc. This was a sweet time of relaxation and catching up.

The first day she was here we were on our second day of the medical translation seminar so most of that day was spent in the hotel across the street. It was nice to be able to have her see FFP doing things other than team-oriented work as opposed to her only experience being with Westerly/SHCP. Day number two we went to the beach and relaxed by the water which was a nice experience to share; who wouldn’t want to hang out at a Caribbean beach with their mom?? Friday we visited some guys that she knows from a while ago, Walmy and Makesnel and their school. They hadn’t seen each other in years so it was great to see that re-connection and spend time visiting their current school and their new school that’s being built. I also had a chance to show her the water system in action at the Men nan Men school as we needed water for the house. Saturday morning before she left we visited Men nan Men again so she could see it in full operation and we had a good time visiting Wesley’s class.

Over all it was a great five days and as I said, it was a joy to be able to take mom around and show her my life so to speak. But the best part about it for me was the motherly wisdom and the time we had on the roof each night to talk about life and love and the future. I can say that that is the aspect of my mom that I miss most; the wisdom that just flows out of her in such a gentle way. The ability she has to speak truth into situations is marvelous. God sent her at the perfect timing as I am wondering and praying and thinking about what I am to do next.

I’ll be honest the goodbye wasn’t too hard because we will see each other in less than two months as we go to her family reunion for a week in West Virginia. I’ll have plenty of time to be with her again then!

Thanks to everyone who sent words of encouragement and love with her and supported her visit in any way. I noted that she was the first and (most likely) only visit I have had since living here! **Still waiting on you ADAM** God knows how to orchestrate sweet fellowship between family members and I am thankful to him for having such great parents. The older I get the more I realize I want to be like them.

Love you mom!

Thanks again to everyone who has continued to read my posts and support and encourage me in every way.

Blessings,

Ben